Game and Fish seeks public input at meeting on Heritage Fund wildlife areas

[Source: Karen Warnick, White Mountain Independent] – Five large wildlife management areas in Apache County are owned and operated by the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Four of the areas are Heritage Fund sites: Becker Lake Wildlife area, Wenima Wildlife area, Sipe Wildlife area, and the Grasslands area. The fifth is the Springerville Marsh Wildlife area.

Employees of Game and Fish held a public meeting March 6 at the Eagar Town Hall for a property management review and to encourage the public to comment on the next six years of operation in the five areas.

State wants to change Becker Lake fishing rules

[Source: Karen Warnick,] – Kelly Meyer of the Game and Fish Department presented information at a public hearing at the Eagar Council chambers on changing the status of Becker Lake to catch and release only. The meeting was held Sept. 21 and about 30 to 40 people attended. The proposal by Game and Fish will be sent to the Game and Fish Commission in early October for a vote.

History of Becker Lake –“Becker Lake was created in 1880 by constructing a dam at the head of an old oxbow of the Little Colorado River,” according to Game and Fish. “The lake was used principally for irrigation purposes. However, a fishery did exist there. In 1973, the Becker family sold 338 deeded acres to the Arizona Game and Fish Commission which included the lake of approximately 100 surface-acres. In that year, the Commission directed the Arizona Game and Fish Department to manage Becker Lake as a quality trout fishery. Since that time, the Department has managed the lake as a ‘Blue Ribbon’ fishery with special regulations, such as motor restrictions, bag and possession limits, restricted methods of take and seasonal closures. In January 2002, the Department purchased an additional 291 acres of adjacent private land utilizing the Department’s Heritage Fund to protect and enhance stream and riparian habitat along the Little Colorado River for wildlife species of special concern.” [to read the full article click here].

Lyman Lake State Park spared for now, but still on the chopping block

Penny Pew expresses support for keeping Lyman Lake State Park open.

[Source: Karen Warnick, The White Mountain Independent] — Once more Lyman Lake State Park, located near St. Johns, escaped closure by the State Parks Board, but it still remains on the chopping block along with seven other parks.  The board met Friday, Feb. 20, to decide the fate of more than a third of Arizona’s 27 parks.  The meeting took place at the Peoria City Council chamber room due to the large number of people expected to attend.  The meeting started at 9 a.m. and lasted until 3 p.m. with a 30-minute lunch break. 

Residents from around the state showed up to support keeping the parks open.  County and city law enforcement officials, members of non-profit and grassroots organizations, and private citizens spoke before the board during the call to the public.  Several individuals representing Apache and Navajo counties, including Apache County Sheriff Joseph Dedmon and Navajo County Supervisor Jesse Thompson, were at the meeting.  Penny Pew, representing a community group from the White Mountains, spoke to the board.  Pew presented the board with letters from Apache County Supervisor R. John Lee, the mayors of Pinetop-Lakeside, Eagar and St. Johns, the chambers of St. Johns and Springerville-Eagar, St. Johns Unified School District Superintendent Larry Heap, and over 100 students from St. Johns. 

In his letter, Lee said, “On behalf of the citizens of Apache County, this letter is an expression of Apache County’s support for continued operation of Lyman Lake State Park, which is vital to its residents and nonresidents in providing recreation and economic benefits.”  Eagar Mayor Kim Holaway said, “Apache County is one of the poorest counties in the state and is considered entirely rural.  Rural communities have fewer resources to draw upon than the larger cities in our state.”  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]